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Feminist Transportation

August 23, 2010

My mouse is a bit sticky, and seems to keep picking up large portions of my folders and dropping them in other quadrants. This is thanks to an unfortunate run-in with a cleaning wipe — you wouldn’t think they’d be as dangerous to a laptop as they are.

All that’s to say, my post may have a particularly unusual syntax today.

I took the bus during my hiatus from the Internet, due to a breakdown with the car, and it was quite an experience. Makes me consider feminism in a whole new light.

I’m one of those people who says, “I’m not a feminist, but…” and has never taken a women’s studies class but owns at least one Judith Butler book. In other words, I am the sort of feminist that some feminists love to hate. I acknowledge that — all of the privileges, none of the responsibilities.

ANYWAY. My point is that I got on the bus. Within a block, I’d been visited by a middle aged man who tried to kiss my hand, and I can’t believe this, but I felt bad for scolding him for trying to do so. Even though I didn’t know him. I’d never seen him. He didn’t ask. It was a blatant invasion of personal space and creeped me the heck out.

So this is where the feminist responsibility should have come in: I could have scolded him more sternly, could have let it go afterwards instead of feeling guilty that I might hurt his feelings or offend him. I could have called him on it. Instead, I played the blame game: what did I do to make myself deserve it?

I understand that this is exactly the mentality that gets girls (and women) blamed for their own rapes. They shouldn’t have worn that skirt, those shoes, walked that street, walked at night. What did they do to make themselves deserve it? And yet, while I would never blame a woman for being raped, I somehow turned that same mentality on myself and blamed myself for being hassled on the bus.

Augh. How frustrating, how offensive, how demeaning to myself. That is the “not a feminist” part of me that acted. I wish the part of me that is the exception to the “not a feminist” would act more often.

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